Nepal earthquake news update 13 July 2015

FUNDRAISING NEWS

We continue to be humbled by the fantastic reaction to our Nepal Earthquake Appeal, which has now reached around £900,000.

Donations still continue to flow in so fast that we struggle to keep up with the thank you letters and banking cheques, so we would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their support and to promise that you will receive regular updates as to how your donations are being applied. What has been particularly gratifying is the range and size of the donations received, and the number of events arranged around the country by people from all walks of life who care so deeply about the plight of the Nepalese people.

We have tried to put all fundraising events on our website but if you have either organised or are planning an event that is not there, please do let us know.

Our small team in the UK continues to work all hours in order to cover the extra workload and we would reiterate that donations to the Earthquake Appeal suffer no dilution from administrative costs, which are covered by the sale of Doug’s auction prints and imported Nepalese goods at events around the country.

The bad news is that we are still a long way off our target of the estimated £2 million (or more) cost of rebuilding/restoring all our projects in Nepal as well as providing shelter for the incredible staff and supporters who are the backbone of our operation. We are deeply conscious of the fact that many of the communities whose lives it has been our long term objective to improve have suffered unimaginable personal loss as well as the loss of their livelihoods, and this is in the forefront of our strategic planning as outlined below.

OUR CURRENT EARTHQUAKE RESPONSE AND FUTURE PLANS 

CAN is collaborating with leading UK construction and architectural experts to identify building systems which (a) provide maximum protection from future earthquakes and (b) make optimum use of the geography, resources and materials available in each area.

This is by definition a slow process, made more difficult by the twin effects of the impending monsoon and difficulties of gaining access to remote villages, but good progress is being made and we feel confident that we have identified the right partners in this context. In line with our traditional focus on sustainability, we are making sure that our local personnel and the key members of the relevant village communities are integrally involved in the process at all stages – if there is any silver lining to this horribly dark cloud it is the hope that the communities will end up with more soundly based infrastructure as well as knowledge and skills which may go some way to subsidising the loss of traditional livelihoods.

The update posted on 18th June reported the introduction of a ‘cash for work’ scheme at each project site in areas visited by Recce Teams One and Two. Villagers are paid to recover stone, wood, tin sheets and plastic windows from the destroyed buildings, and to store it properly ready for recycling. Eventually this will be rolled out to rebuilding the projects and homes.

This is not CAN’s normal practice. Communities normally provide voluntary labour as their contribution to a project. But the circumstances are exceptional. Many people have lost their livelihoods, alongside their homes and cannot concentrate on returning to normal until physical conditions are more settled and they have proper roofs over their heads for the winter. Also the training they will receive in earthquake resistant building construction, will stand the communities in good stead for the future.

Meanwhile, we are developing new working relationships with UK and other humanitarian organisations worldwide to share resources and combine our efforts.

CAN STAFF in NEPAL

CAN staff led by Murari Gautam on the ground in Nepal, continue to work heroically to ensure that emergency aid in the shape of food, extra medical supplies, tarpaulins and solar panels (generously sourced and funded by a UK donor) for recharging batteries, are getting through to the communities we support, including the deeply traumatised children from the Bahrabise School for the Deaf.

The children at Bahrabise are receiving great care from the staff who have themselves suffered great loss of both family members and homes. This is a huge challenge given fragmentary communication channels between head office and the project sites, the monsoons and landslides and fragmentary communication channels between head office in Kathmandu and the project sites, the monsoons and landslides. Owing to the remoteness of the communities we support, supplies have to carried in by porter teams or, where the trails are now impassable, delivered by helicopter.

Throughout all this, CAN nurses and teachers have all remained at their posts, delivering essential health care and education in truly appalling conditions, from temporary shelters and schoolrooms constructed from recycled building materials and tarpaulin roofs. All our buildings have been destroyed or left in a state of collapse, if not by the first or second earthquakes, then by the underlying instability of the ground exacerbated by heavy rains. Ghyamrang school, which had survived relatively undamaged until the monsoons, collapsed entirely when the foundations broke up.

DOUG and TRISH SCOTT TO LEAD RECCE PARTY No. 3

Doug and Trish Scott will be heading out to Nepal on 15th July, to congratulate our devoted staff on their brave performance to date and raise moral.

You will have read in earlier updates that two recce teams have already visited the villages of Lapcha and Ghunsa to the east, and the Bahrabise School for the Deaf as well as Kutumsang, Milarepa and Melamchigaun Health Posts and schools in central Nepal. The third recce party, led by Doug will include his wife Trish, a medic Dr Iain Watt, geologist Simon Eden, construction expert Glynn Utting, and long time CAN supporter, member of recce team one and Shelterbox David Webber.

They will visit Ghyamrang Health Post and school which survived the earthquake, but has now been washed away by the monsoon. They will also visit Rohi Guan School. They will then, after a series of meetings visit the remote communities and Health Posts of North Gorkha – Bihi, Prok, Lihi, Lho and Sama Gaun – who have been isolated by massive rock avalanches which have blocked the trails. These communities are supported by CAN and the recce party will assess the situation on the ground, replenish essential medical supplies as well as supplying food and tarpaulins. Anil Bhandari and Tej Tamang have for several weeks been helping the communities construct temporary shelters.

Doug and the recce team also intend to visit Langtang valley and assess the possibility of rebuilding Langtang School and Health Post, if and when required after it is decided where to rebuild Langtang village that was completely buried under the massive rock avalanche.

There will be continuous round of meetings, none more important than with the office staff, the management committee and local project committee chairmen, nearly all of whom have lost their homes to the earthquake. It will be an emotionally charged visit – more so than any of Doug and Trish’s previous trips to Nepal.

IN CONCLUSION…..

This has been a very brief update and we apologise for the absence of a more formal newsletter, but hope you will understand our need to prioritise. Our main objective was to thank you for your continued support, provide a sense of how we are planning to spend your money, and to underline the continued size of the challenge that lies ahead of us in making our contribution to the shattered lives of these poor but immensely resourceful people.

Denise Prior

CAN 13th July 2015

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